Science Visualized

Science has always been partly a visual pursuit, as researchers visually communicate their discoveries and explore the topics they hold near and dear. Haeckel created beautiful color illustrations of organisms, Darwin drew evolutionary trees and da Vinci sketched anatomy, just to name a few.

Now more than ever, science visualizations are part of the discovery process itself, as researchers use 3-D models and data visualizations to uncover patterns in data and reveal the inner workings of life and the universe.

Here are 10 images that reflect the extraordinary beauty of science and the scientific process, as submitted to the College of Natural Sciences from members of its faculty, staff and students.

computer rendering of atmospheric turbulence
Atmospheric turbulence, shown as glass in this model, distorts and limits the resolution of large, ground-based telescopes. Next-gen telescopes, such as the Giant Magellan Telescope, will remove such distortions by computing corrections and changing the shape of the telescope mirror in real-time. [Credit: John Kuehne, research scientist, Department of Astronomy] 

A young brain coral Diploria strigosa (green) that has recently formed a symbiosis with a Symbiodinium dynoflagellate (in red).
A young brain coral Diploria strigosa (green) that has recently formed a symbiosis with a Symbiodinium dynoflagellate (in red). This coral is found in the Flower Garden Banks in the Gulf of Mexico. [Credit: Marie Strader, graduate student, Department of Integrative Biology] 

Continuous wavelet transform of the heart rate of exercising subject
Continuous wavelet transform of the heart rate of exercising subject, showing its multifractal structure. [Credit: Kathy Davis, associate professor, Department of Mathematics] 

Plant epidermal cells taken with a scanning electron microscope
Plant epidermal cells taken with a scanning electron microscope (color added during photo processing). The cells are from the Freshman Research Initiative stream Epidermal Cell Fates and Pathways, and were generated by a former undergraduate student, Tyler Smith, and research educator Tony Gonzalez. [Credit: Tony Gonzalez] 

a microscopic 3-D object fabricated from the protein albumin; looks like a star on a chain
A microscopic 3-D object fabricated from the protein albumin. The star portion of the structure is 15 µm from tip to tip, which is just a touch larger than a human red blood cell. The ability to fabricate structures of this complexity from natural materials is useful for studying quorum sensing and drug resistance in bacteria populations and has potential applications in cancer research, and tissue engineering. [Credit: Eric Spivey, postdoctoral fellow, Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology] 

A mouse embryonic skeleton, with bone stained Alizarin Red and cartilage stained Alcian Blue
A mouse embryonic skeleton, with bone stained Alizarin Red and cartilage stained Alcian Blue. [Credit: Jacqueline Norrie, graduate student, Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology] 

Rendering of the state of the universe 200 million years after the Big Bang, with orange/red bubbles of hot gas and great streaks of cold cosmic gas
The state of the Universe roughly 200 million years after the Big Bang (13.6 billion years ago), a relatively short cosmic timescale. The orange/red bubbles are regions of hot gas that the first stars created when they ignited. The green streaks are cold cosmic gas that has begun to collapse into dark matter but has not yet formed stars. The structure in the center is destined to become one of the first galaxies with the next hundred million years or so. [Credit: Chalence Safranek-Shrader, graduate student, Department of Astronomy] 

protein
Protein Mss116p DEAD-box helicase domain 2 bound to an RNA duplex. [Credit: Arthur F. Monzingo, research associate, Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology] 

A multi-resolution zoom into the ribosome
A multi-resolution zoom into the ribosome, which synthesizes proteins on demand in almost all cells. [Credit: Chandra Bajaj, professor, Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences] 

visualization of free volume, or negative space, in a glassforming polymer
Visualization of free volume, or negative space, in a glassforming polymer. Free volume properties determine how advanced materials assemble and function. [Credit: Frank Willmore, research associate, Texas Advanced Computing Center] 

This post originally appeared on the College of Natural Sciences' website.